the operational need for tactical, armed unmanned systems operating
autonomously and collaboratively on the future battlefield.
We decided to develop the critical elements fulfilling those
needs based on our own funding, to ensure we keep the intellectual
property for those technologies." said Ryan in an interview
with Defense Update.
systems began with the modification of a 'home built' experimental
aircraft, and led to a specially designed platform known as
SkyRaider, which already
proved itself in test flights. During the tests, SkyWatcher
and SkyRaider unmanned aerial vehicles demonstrated cooperative
flight capabilities, managed the SkyForce Distributed Management
System (DMS). The Cooperative Rules Based Reconnaissance Unmanned
System (CRBRUS) demonstration was held for ten days in early
July 2007 at Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, Nevada,
where SkyRaider and Skywatcher, joined by two simulated aircraft
were sent on an 'IED hunt', operated by a single SkyForce DMS.
Through several hours, the UAVs succeeded to locate all five
IEDs hidden along the roads.
The cooperating UAV constellation, which carried FLIR Star
Saphire III sensors on the live UAVs, successfully performed
nine missions in nine days logging 49 flight hours in record-breaking
temperatures. The USAF established the cooperative flight objectives,
testing Proxy’s UAS in a series of complex and dynamic
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and hunter-killer
scenarios. Test criteria included target-search, simulated weapons
and multiple sensor employment, dynamic mission re-tasking,
formation flying, collision avoidance and automatic take-off
and landing. Notably, these demonstrations marked the first
operational display of SkyRaider, which features retractable
gear, a 1000-lb payload and the capacity to operate in high-density
altitudes, among other advanced performance features.
"The CRBRUS program demonstrated the advantage of having
complementary sensor types operating in concert from their ‘sweet
spot’ altitude and flight pattern, merging the derived
information. The combined effect was enhanced target validation
and reduced kill-chain timeline. The demonstration results provide
clear-cut evidence for both the effectiveness of this approach
and the far-reaching potential it holds," said Don Ryan,
CEO, Proxy Aviation.
"A flight of four SkyRaiders, controlled from a single
ground station can carry the same ordnance carried by a single
Reaper (Predator B),
but cover much larger area, maintain longer time over targets
and offer higher redundancy, all that at the same cost."
Says Ryan, Proxy Aviation CEO. Although the Reaper can climb
to an altitude of 45,000 ft, when fully loaded with weapons
it will descend to lower altitudes, "When fully armed with
a payload of 800 kg, the SkyRaider's ceiling is 20,000 –
22,000 ft, similar to the ceiling of the armed Reaper. "
Ryan told Defense Update.
One of the main advantages offered by the Proxy Aviation system
is the SkyForce ground control system, designed from baseline
to operate multiple aircraft. This system can operate as many
as 12 airborne UAVs and 20 ground nodes concurrently. Therefore,
a flight of four SkyRaiders can be launched on a patrol, covering
a large area assigned with complex flight patterns and missions,
while controlled seamlessly from a single control unit, thus
limiting the manpower and logistical footprint to the minimum.
The SkyRaider aircraft is designed as a robust platform, capable
of operating from forward, semi-prepared airstrips. At AUVSI
the aircraft was demonstrated with a mockup of FLIR System's
Safire HD payload.
Each aircraft will be able to carry four Hellfire missiles
or an equivalent payload of precision guided ordnance, such
as the Viper Strike munitions. Hardpoints for the weapon's pylons
are installed in the wing strakes, which are strengthened to
carry the extra load.